Foundation, Concrete and Earthquake Engineering

Willis Tower: A Bundled Tube Structure

A tube framed structure is a three dimensional space structure composed of three, four, or possibly more frames, braced frames, or shear walls, joined at or near their edges to form a vertical tube-like structural system capable of resisting lateral forces in any direction by cantilevering from the foundation. Fazlur Rahman Khan is the father of tubular design. . He has been called the Einstein of structural engineering and the Greatest Structural Engineer of the 20th Century for his innovative use of structural systems that remain fundamental to modern skyscraper construction. Tube-frame construction was first used in the DeWitt-Chestnut Apartment Building, designed by Khan and completed in Chicago in 1963.

Bundled Tubes in Willis Tower
Closely spaced interconnected exterior columns form the tube. Horizontal loads (primarily wind) are supported by the structure as a whole.

About half the exterior surface is available for windows. Framed tubes allow fewer interior columns, and so create more usable floor space. Where larger openings like garage doors are required, the tube frame must be interrupted, with transfer girders used to maintain structural integrity. Tube-frame construction was first

A variation on the tube frame is the bundled tube, which uses several interconnected tube frames. The Willis Tower in Chicago used this design, employing nine tubes of varying height to achieve its distinct appearance.
Offset at Bundle Tube in Willis Tower
The bundle tube design was not only highly efficient in economic terms, but it was also "innovative in its potential for versatile formulation of architectural space. Efficient towers no longer had to be box-like; the tube-units could take on various shapes and could be bundled together in different sorts of groupings. The bundled tube structure meant that "buildings no longer need be boxlike in appearance: they could become sculpture.


  1. anybody have the cigar demensions?

  2. The viewing pods slide in and out of the building: